J.R. Martinez was born in Shreveport, LA, on June 14, 1983. He enlisted in the United States Army in September 2002 and underwent Basic and Advanced Training at Fort Benning, GA, where he gained skills as an 11-B Infantryman. After reporting to Fort Campbell in January of 2003 he was assigned to his unit, 2/502 Delta Company.
He was deployed to Iraq in February 2003, and in April, J.R. was serving as a driver of a Humvee when his left front tire hit a landmine and he suffered severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body, as well as smoke inhalation. He was then evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany, for immediate care. Eventually, Martinez arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX, to begin his road to recovery. He spent 34 months at BAMC, undergoing 32 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
After his recovery, he joined the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes as a National Spokesperson in 2004. He has since worked with CSAH to promote their financial assistance and support programs to other wounded service members, and inspire others through his amazing story of resilience, perseverance, and optimism. While J.R.'s experience is certainly life-changing, amazingly, J.R. claims this is actually a change for the better. He's discovered it's what's inside a person that matters most, and devotes himself to showing others the true value in making the most of every situation.